Sunday, 17 August 2014

Charity begins at home


Charity- helping others or helping yourself? I think it's a bit of both. 

Knitting and crochet saved me from going mad in the early days of my illness, when it was one of the only things I could do whilst lying in bed feeling so poorly. As well as helping with brain fog, poor co-ordination and muscle weakness symptoms, knitting and crochet have helped me to tackle the isolation that can arise from being house bound. Knitting and crochet have helped to get me 'out there' into the outside world in a unique and fun way. Through joining online craft groups and making online friends I have become involved in some wonderful projects which have enabled me to feel like part of something bigger and to feel like I am contributing to the outside world in some small but meaningful way. 


  It started with a mouse....

... or to be precise.... a whole mile of them!


One day whilst browsing my Facebook news feed I happened upon a page called 'Mile of Mice'. It turned out to be a wild and ambitious project aimed at creating an entire mile of knitted mice, laid out nose to tail, to raise money for Alzheimer's research. 



The instructions were simple- follow a basic knitting pattern and send completed mice to Libby Swindells, organiser of the event (pictured above in the centre, covered in mice!) However, what the knitters did with their mice was far from simple. There were football teams of mice, ballerina mice, a tardis and dalek mouse, bumble bee and ladybird mice and my personal favourite.... Danger Mouse!


The project raised £10,543 for Altzheimer's Research, but it did a lot more besides. Knitters and knitting groups across the country contributed including my grannie, 88 at the time, my mum and I. It was a lovely activity for the three of us to do together, especially as my grannie had not knitted in over 30 years!



  Blankets for Rescue Dogs


Next came an idea from the lovely Rachel, a friend met through an online support group for people with M.E.  A massive dog lover, Rachel started a Facebook group called "Blankets for Rescue Dogs" (it wasn't too tricky to guess at the purpose of this group!) I crocheted my first ever blanket whilst thinking of the dog who would use it and what their story might be. I hoped they would be comfortable and warm using my blanket.... it was made from pink sparkly yarn so if nothing else the lucky dog would be glamorous!



  If you go down to the (Woollen) Woods today..'re sure of a BIG surprise (or at least lots of little ones!) 







This one was not for charity as such, but was a lovely way for me to get together (virtually of course!) with some of the lovely girls in the Chronic Creatives Facebook group. This group was created by and for people with long-term chronic illnesses as a way of sharing skills and spreading crafty joy. A few of the members had contributed to the Woollen Woods in previous years and suggested the group did so again. So….. contribute we did….. but…. Being ill as we are…. We decided to create a long garland with each person contributing only as many flowers as they could manage to make. What a beautiful idea it was, and it turned out to be very special. 

My little lovelies ready to send to Amy

The garland after CC member Amy joined it all together



 This was for the 2014 exhibition but lots of last years have been rehung, the beauty of wool!  You'll find details of the Woollen Woods sites on their website.

If you would like to see more of the contributions then Clare has written an excellent summary with lots of lovely photos on her blog: The Summerhouse by the Sea. 



Poppies, poppies, everywhere!


Following this I became involved in the work of the ‘Creative Moments’ group, led by artist Phillipa England and centred around commemorating the centenary of the beginning of WW1. 


A glimpse of the finished installation



 I ‘met’ Phillipa on Facebook quite by accident, although those who believe in a higher power would call it fate. A beautiful picture appeared in my news feed, which Phillipa had drawn as part of a ‘28 drawings later’ challenge. I felt very drawn to it and contacted her to ask if I could buy it… about a week later it was in my home being admired, ready to be framed and popped on the wall. There was just something haunting about the face and the eyes that drew me in. 

Sketch by Phillipa England


 This led me to investigate her other work, finding beautiful birds hand crafted from felt and silks, realistic while at the same time ethereal and with a certain charm and magic.


Felt and textile 'Great Tit' by Phillipa England


 I had been attempting these previously and struggling with the legs and feet but she kindly offered me advice and a wee tutorial on how to do it. How kind of her to share her skills so openly and without a second thought. It wasn’t long before we were talking knitting and her grand and ambitious plan to hand craft 1914 poppies for an installation at the RHS Gardener’s World Live Show in the Birmingham NEC. 

Phillipa's original watercolour

The finished installation received an RHS Certificate of Merit

Phillipa led craft groups with members ranging from toddlers to one man in his nineties! As well as this, virtual groups across the country got involved. Some of my friends from the Chronic Creative group contributed, as well as my mum and grannie again. This time I can say that my grannie was 89 and hadn't knitted since.... last year!





  You can find out more about Phillipa on her Facebook page  or find her on Etsy.





  Charity Granny Square Group


This is a project on a truly international scale. Inspired by a crochet work on a grand scale by the artist ‘Work by Knight’ (website here ) Merryn started a Facebook group in 2014 aimed at creating a large piece of crochet art work.  


Deciding that the parrot may be too ambitious for a first project, Merryn found a more suitable artwork for the 2014 project. (Still very ambitious!)  



The 'more achievable' granny square challenge





  It wasn't long before the group had over 100 members, with each person agreeing to crochet one or more granny squares in order to contribute to the larger piece.  With my foggy brain I would have never managed it, but Merryn and Nikki broke the image down into squares, naming them using grid references and distributing close up images for people to copy. Here was mine: 

My improvisation, affectionately known as 'Square C9'

 It is a truly international project, with crochet enthusiasts based all over the world. The finished pieces were all mailed to Merryn in Australia to be joined into a large artwork/quilt, to be auctioned off and the proceeds given to the International Red Cross. It looked great, and led the way for the more ambitious parrot design to be tackled in 2015.

There may still be some squares available... so if you'd like to join in then head to the Charity Collage FB group and choose a square. You are certain to enjoy the challenge.  

So there it is. Social media is a wonderful thing. It has made all of this possible, breaking down the barriers of distance and bringing people together. It has had an especially big impact on the housebound and bedbound, opening up a world of communication which we can access on our own terms, as and when we are able. It has the potential to reduce isolation and increase interaction with the outside world, in this case through enabling lots of individuals to contribute in a small way to something much larger and very, very special, whilst raising money for a worthwhile cause.




Isn’t it smashing?



L x



Drop by and visit me on FB!  












No comments:

Post a Comment